Syrian children's memories of home fade in Jordan camp

Mon Mar 14, 2016 11:30am EDT
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By Bushra Shakhshir

ZAATARI CAMP, Jordan (Reuters) - Over five years of Syria's civil war, tents have given way to sturdy shacks in Jordan's Zaatari Refugee Camp, dusty tracks have been paved, acquiring names, and a generation has been born to parents who fear their children will never see home.

Hudhayfah Al Hariri, who fled from Deraa four years ago, witnessed Zaatari as it mushroomed to a settlement of 85,000 refugees, becoming by population Jordan's fourth largest "city". Children play between their makeshift homes, schools operate, doctors attend to all, babes in arms to the elderly.

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Hariri, 26, had planned to marry in his home town. Their apartment was furnished. But as shelling mounted he was forced to flee. His was the first of many weddings to be held in the desert camp 15 kms (10 miles) from Jordan's border with Syria. 

A picture of the day shows Hariri and his young wife sitting on plastic chairs before a festive orange tapestry, he staring fixedly at the camera, she glancing away, wistful.

The father of two worries his children later born in the camp - Retaj, 2, and Yaman, 8 months - might lose any link to home and family left behind.

"My dream is to go back to Syria, and raise my children there - to live in the land of our grandfathers, for my children to live in the land of goodness. My grandfather's home, it would be different, to raise my children there," said Hariri.

"This isn't our country, our home is Syria. When they're older I'll tell them, but I hope that they'll grow up in Syria."   Continued...

Moroccan doctors carry a Syrian baby Siwar, who was born by caesarean section in a field hospital in Al Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, March 7, 2016. REUTERS/ Muhammad Hamed